May 18, 2017

An "operating system for the brain" gets FDA approval

Courtesy of MindMaze

Combining virtual reality and neuroscience may help a stroke patient's brain recover more quickly.

That's according to MindMaze, a Swiss company (with U.S. headquarters in San Francisco) that just received FDA approval to bring its virtual reality platform to the U.S. market, after already selling it in Europe. The "neurorehabilitation" platform, called MindMotion Pro, uses 3D motion tracking cameras to coordinate movement and brain function and then analyzes that data to tailor therapy, CEO and co-founder Tej Tadi told Axios.

Why it matters: A growing number of virtual reality use cases are in healthcare settings, for both medical training and assisting with therapy. Now that it is FDA-approved — a big win for any startup— MindMaze's virtual reality device will be among the first to be used in U.S. hospitals to assist with therapy after brain injury.

How it works: Using sensors and tracking cameras, MindMotion Pro maps a patient's movements of arms or fingers on a 3D avatar seen on the video-game-like platform. Even if a patient can't actually go through the motions, imagining that they are doing so through the avatar helps activate damaged areas of the brain trigger new neural activity.

Tadi calls it "an operating system for the brain," which can repair a damaged brain and enhance learning for a healthy one. Early partners include Stanford and University of California San Francisco.

It's not cheap: A hospital-grade device runs about $80,000, Tadi said.

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Market ends worst week since financial crisis

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The stock market ended its worst week since the financial crisis, prompting the Fed to release a statement. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that countries are losing their chance to contain the novel coronavirus and raised its global risk assessment to "very high" Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected more than 84,000 others in over 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

California coronavirus: Latest case has no recent history of international travel

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A new case of the novel coronavirus in California was announced on Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that 33 people had tested positive for the virus, noting the risk to the public remains low.

What's new: An adult woman with chronic health conditions in Santa Clara County who "did not recently travel overseas" or come into contact with anyone known to be ill was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus on Friday by CDC and California Department of Public Health officials.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Big video game conference delayed amid coronavirus concerns

Photo: GDC

Next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco became the latest tech event to be cancelled or postponed amid growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: A growing number of events are being scrapped, including Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 developer conference. Some, like the giant SXSW event in Austin, insist they are moving forward.